I Wore a Fedora for a Week to See if It Would Ruin My Life
It did. Almost instantly.
All photos by Sean Foster
This post originally appeared on VICE Australia.
Fedoras used to be cool. Didn't they? I mean, Indiana Jones wore one, not to mention 90 percent of Prohibition-era gangsters, and all the suave leading men of pre-war Hollywood. Then there was Michael Jackson circa "Smooth Criminal" and the great fedora renaissance of the early 2000s, as championed by the likes of Pete Doherty and Johnny Depp.
But right now, in 2016, fedoras may be the single most-hated fashion accessory money can buy. What happened? Why is "neckbeard" the top recommended search when you google fedora? Why has society turned so viciously against a simple hat?
To find out, I went and bought one.
And almost instantly, everything started going wrong.
The best way to get into a cold pool is to just jump in. The fedora was my cold pool. I really didn't want to wear one, so I figured it'd be easier to jump in drunk. That's why Saturday afternoon, before a big night, I googled "hat store Melbourne" and went to the first result.
I walked in and found a great classic little black fedora. After adding a few feathers and a Rugrats –themed ribbon, the monstrosity was ready to get acquainted with my head.
A few hours later, I was on my friend Sean's balcony smoking a cigarette. Usually Sean would join me, but today he wouldn't because I was wearing a fedora. More friends started to arrive, and there were more snickers of "nice hat." For the most part, though, the fedora was politely ignored, just like I was. It genuinely seemed like my social standing had been lowered a few notches.
It was almost midnight when I met up with my girlfriend who saw my fedora and was visibly disgusted. She spent most of the night trying to knock it off my head and leaning away from me whenever I got close. I eventually convinced her to try it, on and although she totally pulled the look off, it turned out to be a bad idea.
Mere minutes later, she face planted into the pavement, the result of a piggy back gone wrong. Here's a photo we took of the damage the next day.
We spent the rest of the night in the emergency room. Day one had ended, although the curse of the fedora had only just begun.
I woke up to find my girlfriend's cat, Sanchez, glaring at the fedora with genuine disdain. It was pretty much the same look I'd been getting from strangers all the night before.
To cheer my girlfriend up, I took her out for some ramen—her sporting a massive black eye, and me, still wearing my incriminating hat. Strangers suspected the worst.
I began to wonder why people hate fedoras so much. I mean, they're just hats, right? Yet it was already having way more of an impact on my life than nearly anything else I'd tried. Joining a gym had nothing on the fedora. Deciding to travel, deciding to study, deciding to chase a certain career—I can honestly say, all of these things had the same, or maybe even less of an impact than wearing a fedora.
It seems to me the fedora has become the symbol for the "nice guy." And by nice guy, I mean creepy neckbeard university socialist club meninist weirdo. I don't think it's the fedora itself that's the problem. Rather, it's who the fedora aligns you with.
I spent Monday morning reading, before realizing I hadn't seen my dad in a while. So I headed over to his place—he opened the front door, glanced at the hat, and asked if I'd been beaten up yet. He seemed disappointed when I said no.
Dad and I were sipping coffee when we heard a crash. A mirror had fallen off the wall and knocked over a glass vase filled with flowers on its way down. That mirror had been hanging on that wall for years.
At that moment, I genuinely felt a bit weirded out. I'd walked past that mirror only moments earlier, wearing the fedora. Still sleep deprived from a night spent in the emergency department, it started to seem kind of possible. Was I wearing a black cat on my head?
Later that night, I walked past a restaurant and made eye contact with a guy carrying a crate full of porcelain bowls. Moments later, he dropped them. Fuck. What is this? I looked at the fedora and felt only evil. Something was definitely going on.
I really didn't want to face the day. Everywhere I went shit was breaking. Could a hat really make that much of a difference? I decided to hit the gym and think about it.
Every step I took in that place was agonizing. Nobody seemed to look at me directly, but gyms are full of mirrors, and I constantly caught glances of disgust and intrigue. Mostly disgust.
I headed to a show on Tuesday night and forgot about the fedora. I basically spent the entire night feeling super confident, walking around tipping my fedora, and saying "good day sir" to total strangers. Some even wanted to wear it, like this guy. That gave me a pretty solid data set on how strangers respond to guys in fedoras.
Responses can be split into two categories: Get the hell away from me you freak, and, Cool hat man! The split is about 70 to 30, favoring the former. Monday's speculation was right—people actively hate dudes in fedoras.
I awoke on Wednesday thinking the worst was behind me. I was wrong. The world was wrong.
That day, by about 4 PM Melbourne time, it became clear Donald Trump would be president of the United States. People around the world scrambled for explanations, How could this happen? The poor fools were oblivious. I looked in the mirror and a rainbow spangled demon stared back at me.
I did this.
It will all soon be over. This is what I repeated to myself as I headed off to lunch with my friend Clare. She also brought along her Shiba Inu, Tofu, a.k.a. the world's cutest dog.
Tofu wore the fedora better than me.
I had a big Friday night planned but barely made it out before I was hit with intense stomach pain. I spent the next two days throwing up and writhing in agony as the full effects of food poisoning ran its course. I don't know what I ate, but I'm certain it was the fedora.
My girlfriend looked after me through the food poisoning, setting me up in her living room. I was struggling to keep anything down, but it gave me time to pause and reflect.
I don't really give much of a shit about fashion. I also don't usually care what people think, but the glares and giggles were hard to ignore. I knew the fedora was almost universally disliked, but I never predicted the extent of how it would affect my standing among others.
And then there was all the weird shit that kept happening. I'm not really superstitious, but that fedora was absolutely, definitely, scientifically cursed.
As I pondered this, I glanced around the room, searching for the fedora. It was nowhere to be found. Aimee had thrown it out that morning.
The curse was lifted.